DIY Soldering Iron
For lovers of DIY, it is actually possible to make your own soldering iron. The components of a basic soldering iron are actually quite straightforward, and in fact, learning about how to build your own can give you a good understanding of how soldering irons work in the first place. We’re all for DIY, but it’s good to keep in mind that a home-made soldering iron is never going to function as well as store bought one. This isn’t really a case where going the DIY route is significantly cheaper/effective. Soldering irons are not particularly expensive, so if you find you’ll be doing a fair amount of soldering, or at least want the soldering to be of good quality, we definitely recommend just buying one. But, if you’re a bit of a hobbyist and just want to play around with some basic soldering techniques, soldering irons make for a pretty straightforward DIY project. Not to mention, this DIY project requires a bit of soldering in the first place!
Parts You Need
To make your own soldering iron, you’ll need a few basic materials.
- Copper wire (about 7”)
- Battery pack
- Fiberglass tape
- Nichrome wire (about 3 cm)
- 2 AA batteries
- 1 Screw
- 2 Washers
- Small wooden block (an appropriate size to be glued onto the battery pack)
Start with a small piece of copper wire, and wrap some fiberglass tape around wire near one end. You only need a small piece of fiberglass tape for this. Don’t wrap the tape around the tip of the copper – make sure to wrap it a few centimeters down. You’ll need the copper tip free to heat the solder.
Next, wrap a string of nichrome wire around the fiberglass tape. This will hold it in place, but more importantly, it will transfer heat from the battery pack to the soldering tip. Then you’ll need to shape the copper wire near the middle with a pair of pliers, making a kind of sling. Ensure the loop of the sling is just big enough to fit your screw through.
Fix the copper sling onto a small wooden block using a screw and a couple washers. The finished product will act as your soldering tip, and the wooden block will be used to connect the tip to the battery pack.
Hot glue the wooden block onto the back of the battery pack and make sure it’s secure. Glue a switch on the other end of the battery pack. Don’t put the batteries into the pack yet – wait until you’re finished all the other steps, including wiring, before inserting the batteries.
Your battery pack should have two DC wires connected to it. The positive (red) wire and the negative (black) wire. Strip both wires at the tip and solder the black wire to the switch component. Connect the red wire to the nichrome wire on the soldering tip by twisting it into place. Using a seperate piece of positive wire (stripped on both ends), solder one end to the switch component and twist the other end to the nichrome wire as well. If the wires aren’t connected properly, the electric current won’t function. It’s important to make a good connection with the wires as the electricity from the battery pack will be used to heat the copper soldering tip.
Once all the solder has cooled and you’ve checked the connections, insert the batteries into the battery holder. Turn the switch on and you’re ready to go!
Rather Buy One?
While this is a fun little project, if you’re going to be doing a lot of soldering you might want to consider purchasing one. We’ve done the research already, so follow the link to read our detailed buyers guide.